Engagement

Relationships Over Data

As a new leader in an organization or role, it’s important to gain a deep understanding of the data, measures, and goals related to your work. But remember the data is not more important than the people. Be aware of your attitudes, behaviors, and energy; these days set the tone for your future and establish credibility. Act transparently and be open with people. Avoid any temptation to isolate yourself or focus on data over relationships. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try inviting a colleague to lunch away from the office.

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Monitor Social Channels

Often times the first place people will look for information about an organization is on their social media pages. Organizations should have a plan for posting updates and messages about a crisis to social channels such as twitter. They should also be prepared to monitor those channels (sometimes 24 hours a day depending on the severity of the crisis) to gauge the audience’s perception of the incident and further guide communication.

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What’s a Win?

As teams set out to achieve new goals, meet and define what will determine positive progress is being made towards the goals. What does success look like? How can we recognize the individuals responsible for each piece of the project? Intentionally design opportunities to celebrate wins into your next or current project.

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Set Realistic Performance Goals

It’s important for goals to be difficult to achieve, to challenge us. However, too much of a challenge can cause extreme stress leading to burnout. A study from Gallup reveals setting realistic performance goals is a better indicator of work-life balance than allowing flexible work arrangements. For those employees who are at risk of burnout, revisit their goals to determine if they are realistic, or if they need adjusting.

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Take a Break

786 million vacation days went unused for Americans in 2018. Research reveals 55% of American’s didn’t use all of their allotted PTO. Use time off to recharge, enjoy new experiences, and connect with friends and family. While many high performers may struggle internally with taking a break from work, a vacation is proven to increase productivity, energy, and optimism.

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Consult Current Employees

While creating job descriptions or new job roles, ask your current employees for their opinions and feedback. It’s likely that current team members have a unique perspective on what a role will require and what skills the company should be looking for.

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Focus on Growth & Development

When crafting a job description and searching for highly talented candidates, it’s important to focus on how this person will contribute to the overall success of the organization. Don’t create a list of endless responsibilites. What opportunities will they have to grow and develop their skills? How will the candidate’s achievements in this role align to business objectives and advancement opportunities?

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Take Pride in Your Work

Execute your responsibilities to the best of your ability. Your work is a reflection of your personal accountability. Identify ways to go above and beyond in your work to exceed the expectations of your leader and team, and positively affect the organization’s results.

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Fulfill a New Passion

Identify an area within your organization about which you are passionate. Have a conversation with your leader about ways to incorporate this passion into your work.

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Guide Employees to Connect to Purpose

To help employees better connect to their purpose, ask them purpose-related questions during one-on-one meetings. Here are a few examples:

  • What do you most enjoy about your work with us?
  • Is there anything you wish you could contribute to?
  • What do you value personally and professionally?
  • How can I as your leader better support your purpose?
  • What about your role are you most proud of and least proud of?
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Use High Performers to Guide

Low solid performers are committed to the organization, but can also be easily influenced by negative, low performers. To best support a low solid performer, partner them with positive, high performers for skill development opportunities.

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Encourage Solid Performers

Solid performers want to build relationships with their leaders, have opportunities for professional development, and hear feedback that inspires improvement. Identify the solid performers on your team, and help them grow by identifying one skill or area for improvement at a time. Ask engaging questions to gain reflective insight and possible solutions from the employee. Ask how you can support their growth and professional development.

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4 Steps to Re-Recruit High Performers

  1. Thank them for their contributions.
  2. Ensure that the employee is informed of the direction of the organization.
  3. Review the characteristics that make the individual valuable to the organization, be specific.
  4. Ask what can be done to ensure you do not lose the employee as a member of the team; reiterate that person’s importance to the organization’s mission.

Listen carefully and follow through with any requests for support.

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Ask Your High Performers

Ask what high performing employees need to be a long-term employee; what can you do for them? Coach this individual to take on new responsibilities or reach new levels of performance.

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Specific is Authentic

Generalized appreciation doesn’t feel authentic and may even come off as just going through the motions. Instead, use details and be specific about the person and their actions. This will show you are really paying attention and value the receiver.

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Create an Appreciation Board

Write one thank you note thanking one employee for extra effort at work, post the note on the board, and provide blank cards and pens for others to add their own notes. Intentional expressions of gratitude by leaders provide opportunities for peers to express gratitude and help employees reconnect to purpose and worthwhile work.

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Service Sets You Apart

Think from your customer’s point of view; what does your organization do to provide its customers with unmistakable value? How do your employees create loyal stakeholders? Do you see room for improvement?

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Recognize Service Excellence

Who provides unmistakable value within your organization? Who follows the standards for service excellence? When you see it, recognize it! Thank this person for living the organization’s values and being an example of what right looks like. You can let them know on the spot, or bring it up during your next team meeting. Recognizing the behavior and actions that are most important to our organization’s success positively reinforces the performance we want to have continued.

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Connect to Serve

When leaders help their teams connect their daily work to a greater purpose, people become motivated to serve. Behind all of the daily tasks, what is the ultimate outcome and what actions can your team take to get there? Help your team connect to purpose while providing clear directions for serving stakeholders.

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Salute Customer Praise

Collect customer comments that reflect the unmistakable value your organization provides. Share those comments with your team to open up team meetings or as a quick email to remind them of the difference they make by providing unmistakable value to those they serve.

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From Employee Engagement Surveys to Action

After the employee engagement survey results are calculated, gather your team and talk about the results. What ideas does the team have for improving the lowest items? What items are most important to them? After you’ve recorded their priorities, develop an action plan to present to the team. When leaders are transparent with their action plans, teams know their leader is committed to increasing their engagement levels.

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Learn from Mentees

Both a mentor and mentee can benefit from valuable feedback from one another. The original purpose of the relationship may be to guide the mentee, however, mentors can learn a thing or two from those with less professional experience. Next time you meet with your mentee ask for their perspective on an upcoming decision or project or ask for feedback around your leadership style.

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Find a Copilot

A copilot mentoring relationship is reciprocal. Both parties can rely on each other for help navigating the personalities in the workplace, talking through projects, and holding each other accountable. Think of a copilot that would help you improve your engagement level and the quality of your work.

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Establish a Mentorship Program

64% of managers say they don’t think their own employees will be able to keep pace with skills needed in the future and only 20% have the skills needed for both their current role and their future career. Organizations can capitalize on their own employees to fill in any skills gaps by establishing a mentorship program. This can be more formal one-on-one mentoring, peer-to-peer mentoring, or group mentoring. Get started by asking your employees what they hope to get out of their future mentorship program.

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Turn Aspiring Leaders into Mentors

To encourage the development of aspiring leaders, offer them the opportunity to mentor the organization’s newest employees. Not only will your aspiring leaders learn how to coach others, but the organization will see a variety of benefits from reduced turnover to increased morale.

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Ask How to Improve Communication

Gather feedback from your employees and the community (investors, customers, people who benefit from your organization) regarding your communication. Do they receive too much communication, or too little? Are they able to understand the communication and find it relevant? What improvements do they recommend? Review the responses and tailor the organization’s communication practices to their preferences.

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Reduce Communication Barriers

What communication tools, procedures, or standards are causing a barrier in your workplace? Is there a better solution for that communication tool or process? Take the steps to reduce the barrier and increase the quality of the communication tool or standard being used.

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Communicate by Listening

Individuals want to be heard and able to share their ideas. Leaders who are able to develop good relationships with their employees are likely good listeners. To become a better listener, be attentive, ask open-ended questions, ask probing questions, request clarification, paraphrase, be compassionate and empathetic, and summarize back the information you heard to ensure its accuracy and let the communicator know they are heard.

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Use Social Media to Increase Transparency

Social media facilitates transparent communication by reaching your community where they already spend time. How can your organization use social media to create an authentic connection with its audience? What about posting a quick ‘behind-the-scenes’ picture or the answer to a frequently asked question? Identify one thing you can do this week to show your organization’s authenticity on social media and post it!

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Clarify Decision Making

Be open with all employees in the organization about the decision-making process. The more information an individual has about why and how a decision was made, the less anxious and uncertain they may feel. During conversations with your teams this week, make it a point to be transparent and start by explaining the why.

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Harvest Wins from Data

One way to use data you’ve collected is to identify wins from the results and follow-up with a celebration. When you begin to review your data, start by looking for 3 wins you can pass on to your teams and celebrate.

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Use Data to Action Plan

Collecting data is meaningless if we aren’t analyzing the data for opportunities and improvements. After data has been collected, analyzed, and shared, develop an action plan using information from these discussions. Set a challenging but achievable goal. Resist the temptation to set too many goals and stick to 1-3 to focus on.

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Sharing Data

After we have gathered data, it’s important to close the feedback loop and share the results with our organization’s stakeholders, such as employees and the community. Conversations with stakeholders around the data provide opportunities to gain additional information and identify wins, gaps, and possible strategies for reducing gaps.

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Use Scorecards to Communicate Purpose

Using a scorecard, help employees see how their daily actions inspire progress that leads to meaningful results. Employees are more likely to be engaged when they see how their work aligns to the organization’s mission and values.

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Use Probing Questions

Rather than risk alienating a team member with constructive criticism, try probing questions to initiate improvement. Start with: “Have you experienced any barriers to achieving results recently? How did you work through that?” Then, probe: “Can you think of a time you’ve experienced a similar barrier? What did you do?” Offer suggestions by explaining what has worked for you in a similar situation. Close by asking: “What actions could you take to grow and develop your skills? How can I help you?”

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Culture of Care

Employees who feel that they’re cared about by their leader are far more likely to be engaged with their daily work and continue to work for the organization. Listen to individuals, tell them why you value them, and have empathy for their situations.

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Commit to Monthly Meetings

Employees want leaders who are approachable, work alongside them, provide training and development opportunities, build a relationship with them, and utilize efficient systems. These needs can be met by participating in one-on-one monthly meetings with individuals you supervise. Make a commitment today by scheduling monthly meetings for next month.

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Meet with Leaders First

Ask the leadership team to participate in a Leadership Forum prior to the organization-wide employee forum. Explain what the employee forum will look like and gather feedback to ensure it’s successful. Include the information needed for leaders to continue to reinforce the message with their teams over the next 90 days.

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Anticipate Questions

In preparation for an employee forum, consider sending out a request for questions from employees beforehand.  Doing so will give some employees more time to think about what they would like to ask the senior executive, as well as prepare the leader by reviewing what information employees are curious about.

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Plan for Fun

When planning for the executive leader to host an employee forum, consider developing a theme and include costumes, role-plays, decorations, food, door prizes, and music. For example, if the organization’s focus is on overcoming obstacles, the theme could be ‘the Olympics.’ Senior leaders who present can dress up as athletes, and medals can be awarded to activity participants or those with outstanding results last quarter.

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Recognize Performance

Plan to recognize at least three individuals or teams for their exceptional work at your next employee forum. Include results harvested from your leadership team. Consider opening with these “wins” to begin the forum on a positive note.

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Discuss Available Leadership Development

What resources can upcoming leaders take advantage of to develop their skills? Are there external professional development opportunities available? Can aspiring leaders easily access the necessary resources? Connect with identified aspiring leaders and show them the available resources aligned to their leadership development needs.

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Get Aspiring Leaders Involved

While supporting the development of an aspiring leader, involve them with real-life situations that present an opportunity for decision making or problem-solving. New leaders can also develop skills in these areas by conducting role-play scenarios and reviewing case studies.

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Connect with Aspiring Leaders

Once you’ve identified upcoming leaders within the organization, get to know them better. Identify their skills and what areas can be improved. During one-on-one meetings with aspiring leaders, ask for their input on how they can build their needed skills. Strive to provide upcoming leaders with additional opportunities to own key outcomes.

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Increase Engagement

Ask employees you supervise what is one of their strengths or talents. Find a way to incorporate their strength into their responsibilities. According to Gallup (2014), focusing on individual strengths makes employees “six times more likely to be engaged.”

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Recognize Strengths

During one-on-one meetings with employees, provide specific praise in relation to the employee’s strengths. Communicate how the employee uses their specific strength to accomplish organizational goals.

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Align Actions to Strengths

When aligning the goals of the organization to actions for specific employees, first consider each employee’s strengths. To increase employee engagement and productivity, distribute the actions according to each individual’s strengths.

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Stop and Celebrate

Some projects take years to complete, others are never complete due to consistent advances in technology. Take time to stop and reflect on the projects that you lead. Have you celebrated the small wins along the way? Have you taken time to recognize and appreciate all of the work that has gone into the project? Leaders who reflect on the team’s progress, recognize it and celebrate it, keep the team motivated for the long run.

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Listen for Understanding

Avoid the temptation of listening to others only to prepare yourself for a response. The act of listening helps us better understand those around us. Pause for 5 seconds to make sure the person is done talking before you begin your response. Consider responding with a probing question or a clarifying statement to be sure you’re understanding the message correctly.

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Satisfaction Surveys

How do you know your stakeholders are satisfied? The best way is to ask. Create a stakeholder feedback survey and distribute it to customers, clients, the community, parents, etc., to gather essential data used for decision making and future success.

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Evaluate Your Recognition

Is recognition in your organization leader-driven or employee-driven? Do rewards align with the recommended behaviors and values of the organization? How often do individuals get recognition? More than once per year? Evaluate your recognition processes at least once per year and strive to make recognition as employee-centered and engaging as possible.

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Recognize Using Social Media

Incorporate rewarding and recognizing team members into your social media strategy. People are attracted to their ’15 minutes of fame’ and sharing a post recognizing team members publicly is an easy way to make them feel appreciated and a way to show the community what you value. If your organization doesn’t use social media, consider a consistent spot in the newsletter instead.

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Track Recognition

Using the recognition tracking form or a similar process, record who you’ve acknowledged and why. If you supervise others, track who recognizes who and why. This allows you to see who and what is being recognized as well as performance trends.

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Stay True to Your Organization

Employees feel valuable and motivated when they are recognized for their contributions. Authentic, consistent, and specific recognition aligned with the organization’s values is the most effective. Aim for recognition that feels organic rather than forced.

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Value Based Recognition

Recognize an employee of the month for living out organizational values or create an opportunity for peers to reward each other monthly for living out values.

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Weekly Connections

Connect with your team once a week for 10-15 minutes. Each member reports: one win/progress made, what step they’re taking next, and any potential barriers to achieving their goal.

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Use Feedback to Motivate

Many individuals crave feedback at work. It lets us know we’re on the right track, and reveals areas for improvement. The best feedback results from asking questions such as, “What is going well and why is it going well?,” “Are you experiencing any barriers? Why?,” and “How have you overcome similar barriers in the past?.” Use these prompts next time you’re providing feedback to a team member.

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Offer Freedom within the Fences

The most successful organizations are those that offer employees “freedom within fences.” The standards and expectations are collaboratively set, based on the organization’s goals. Then, leaders and employees creatively operate within the fence. This type of structure is not about control. Progress is monitored and direction is provided for how to achieve success.

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One Step at a Time

Annual or 90-day goals broken into bite-sized pieces create the opportunity for small, achievable wins that build momentum and confidence within the team. Use these small achievements as an opportunity to celebrate progress towards the goal.

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Recognition Team

Establish a service team of individuals who are responsible for creating reward and recognition programs and ideas for your organization. Individuals respond differently to various forms of recognition. By using a team to create reward and recognition programs there will be a greater variety of them.

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Engage People with Feedback

Formal and informal conversations with individuals provide us with feedback we can immediately use to improve employee engagement. If an employee expresses a need for a tool to get their job done, provide the employee with a time frame for when they will receive what is needed. Follow-up on the information you gathered to close the loop.

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From Feedback to Actions

Identify 1-2 specific, high-leverage next steps from stakeholder feedback that will make the biggest difference to those you serve and drive the results you aim to achieve.

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Forward Virtual Wins

When you receive an email from a customer or client celebrating an individual who makes a difference in your organization, spread the love. Forward the email to your entire team. Not only does it provide an example of what the right behavior looks like, but it will also help the team stay connected to their purpose.

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What is Their Preference?

Do your customers prefer an email or a phone call? Do they prefer 1 email a week, or 1 email a month? Learn your customers’ preferences and use the information to ensure they’re engaged the way they prefer.

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Develop Norms for Emails

Create organizational standards for email communication. Should the sender receive a response within 24 hours? Are your employees expected to answer emails after-hours? After email standards have been created, leadership will set an example by role-modeling the expected behaviors.

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Analyze The Process

Today, examine one process you or your team uses most frequently to eliminate extra steps and identify ways to improve. The most effective processes are simple, rather than complex, and are revisited regularly for efficiency.

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Quick Wins

Invite a coworker to have a cup of coffee or bring them a small gift to celebrate a job well done or personal accomplishment.

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Ask Your Boss

“What is the one area in which you would most like me to place an extra focus?” and proceed to exceed their expectations.

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Be Open to Feedback

Thank your colleague who cares enough to speak up and provide you with feedback. Feedback is a caring gesture meant to help you grow.

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Go Where You’re Happiest

Today spend more time with people who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.

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The Joy of Reward

Recognize your high performers by giving them more responsibility or an opportunity to work in an area they are most passionate about.

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Feedback to Inspire

While giving critical feedback, remind the recipient that you believe in them and their abilities, the goal you are collectively trying to achieve, and the new information they need to drive to excellence.

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Question for Better Answers

Instead of asking, “Do you have any questions?,” ask, “What can I explain better?” You can probe further by asking, “Can you be more specific?,” “What makes you say that?,” “Can you give me an example?,” and “Why do you think that’s working?”

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Use Fun to Motivate

Come up with a way to incorporate ‘FUN’ into a workday. To get people excited, you have to be excited. Why shouldn’t work be fun?

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Value People’s Ideas

When someone comes to you with an idea, sincerely thank them for it. We give others value when we let them know their ideas are important.

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Show Value by Asking Questions

Learn something new about an employee by asking them about their family or interests. Value is created when we show interest and concern for their well-being.

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Show Your Team They Fit

Ensure everyone on your team has a place, a purpose, is prepared, and is passionate about what they do.

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Objective Evaluations

Adopt and commit to an objective, measurable, leader evaluation tool and hold leaders accountable for the results.

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Get Personal

Individually ask your team members a personal question today. Investing in the emotional side of your team builds the trust required to achieve excellence.

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Support Your Colleagues

Add time in your meetings today to give the opportunity for others to share their ideas. This will encourage diverse thinking and problem solving.

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What Gets Recognized Gets Repeated

Set clear expectations by immediately recognizing individuals who are doing the right things in the right way.

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Give Trust to Get Trust

How do you get people to trust? Start with trusting first. Share a vulnerable experience with a colleague today that will begin building your relationship.

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Prioritize for Joy

Identify what priorities will allow you to lead a happy life and let those things guide you.

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Finding Meaning

All of us want to be a key player on a team that achieves something meaningful. Take time today to connect your team to the deeper purpose of the work you do. Reveal a deeper meaning behind your business strategy and actions the team carries out on a daily basis.

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Celebrate people

Recognizing when things go well is one of the most effective ways to get more of what we want. Publicly recognize a member of your team for a job done right.

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Guide to Purpose

Leaders help all employees find purpose in their work. Connect employees to what’s most meaningful to them. Ask, “What did you enjoy working on this past year? Why?” Then, help them align their upcoming goals to the organization’s overall strategy, using their response.

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Building Trust

Whether it’s the strategic direction or leadership decisions, building trust in an organization takes a consistent demonstration of action aligned to words. It also requires that trust first be given. Do you trust your team to do what they say they will do?

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